A one-man autobiographical exploration of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Can’t Stop Can’t Stop is a short but effective journey into the world of Sam Ross (its author and performer) at C Royale.
Sam Ross’ self-penned Can’t Stop Can’t Stop explores his own experiences of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in a short but effective autobiographical solo performance. Ross explains, through various media, what it’s like to live with the condition: from scientific facts and definitions to his own coping mechanisms and personal experience with therapy.
We soon learn that OCD’s different for everyone and, contrary to the general opinion, isn’t just about keeping things neat and in order or washing your hands too much. Sometimes it can take the form of a sign on the floor that you should not touch, or a voice that tells you that you are to hurt yourself or the people you love. That being said, the show isn’t ‘full-on’ for its entire duration: Ross has good comedic timing and at one point takes out a ukulele to sing a song about the condition.
Everything’s perfectly timed and safely rehearsed: there are screams, fast-paced monologues, rituals and movements but the border lines of the performance space are never crossed and it feels a safe process both for the audience and performer. Ross’ story also allows for commentary on the therapy and what kind of resources are available for someone with OCD; after a long section where he re-enacts his first few sessions with his doctor, we find out that it is all made up as Ross is actually still waiting for treatment more than a year after requesting therapy. It’s unbelievably crushing.
Can’t Stop Can’t Stop does contain some content that audience members could potentially find uncomfortable, but is not a show that’s aim is to shock or alienate. I don’t believe it is a cry for help either, or attempt to make us feel pity. It’s an invitation to step into someone else’s shoes, someone suffering from a condition that many have prejudices on. It appeals to our empathy and is an invitation to understand and accept a story that we may well not being able to relate to.
In addition to it being a physical and mental tour de force for the performer, Can’t Stop Can’t Stop‘s text is beautifully written. Even if most of its material is factually recited or embodied, there are passages that show the artist’s ability to go beyond his condition and paint a scene of calm where the world is quiet and everyone is safe, as if contained in a snowball.